Coal ash on its way to Perry County

Updated by: Mario Hendricks - bio | email

UNIONTOWN, AL (WSFA) - In Uniontown there is a cloud of uncertainty over the shipment of coal ash to the Arrowhead Landfill a few miles away. Booker T. Gibson is really nervous over the potential long-term health effects. One study says the ash has 14 heavy metals such as low levels of arsenic. The ash is coming from a recent spill in Harriman, Tennessee.

"We don't need that in our community," said Gibson.

In Marion Willie White for one says he has no opinion on the matter but feels either way the ash will be dealt with.

"I know that God will take over the earth one day," said White.

Perry County Commission Chairman Fairest Cureton insists there is nothing to be concerned about. To prove his point Cureton gripped a handful of ash, the same coal ash he says came from Tennessee.

"I think people often make too much of a big deal out of things. This is no different than the ashes you have in your fire place," said Cureton.

While Cureton tries to put the lid on any fears here, he points out the arrival of the coal ash by train is a windfall; 50 new temporary jobs, maybe permanent down the road and more than 4 million dollars in dumping fees for the county government. The right move he says at the right time. The right move considering the unemployment in Perry County is more than 16 percent.

Those new jobs, according to chairman Cureton, will pay between 10 to 17 dollars an hour depending on skill level.

"We plan to improve our infrastructure and give money to schools," said Cureton.

The Federal EPA reportedly approved the shipment because the Arrowhead Landfill has the proper plastic liner that prevents leaks.

Still, some in these parts say they will never be comfortable getting dumped on by someone else's problem 300 miles away.